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Prisoners in 1992
Darrell K. Gilliard
The number of prisoners under the jurisdiction of Federal or State correctional authorities at yearend 1992 reached a record high of 883,593. The States and the District of Columbia added 50,809 prisoners; the Federal system, 8,651. The increase for 1992brings total growth in the prison population since 1980 to 553,772, an increase of about 168% in the 12-year period.
The 1992 growth rate (7.2%) was greater than the percentage increase recorded during 1991 (6.6%), and the number of new prisoners added during 1992 was 8,451 more than the number added during the preceding year (51,009). The 1992 increase translates into nationwide need for approximately 1,143 prison bedspaces per week, compared to the nearly 981 prison bedspaces per week needed in 1991.
Prisoners with sentences of more than 1 year (referred to as "sentenced prisoners") accounted for 96% of the total prison population at the end of 1992, growing by 7.3% during the year. The remaining prisoners had sentences of a year or less or were unsenenced (for example, those awaiting trial in States with combined prison-jail systems).
The number of sentenced Federal prisoners increased at a faster rate than sentenced prisoners in the States during 1992 (15.9% versus 6.8%). These annual rates of increase were higher than in 1991 when the Federal system grew 12.5%, and State systems, 6.4.
The number of Federal prisoners with no sentences or sentences of less than a year decreased during 1992 (from 14,912 to 14,553), while the number of sentenced prisoners increased by 9,010.
Prison populations in Maine, New Jersey, North Dakota, Oregon, and Wyoming decreased during 1992. The decrease in these 5 States totaled 1,135 inmates. The highest percentages of growth during 1992 were reported in Texas (18.4%), West Virginia (16.2%), Nw Hampshire (15.9%), Idaho (15.5%), and Wisconsin (15.4%). Eight States reported total prisoner population increases of 10% or more since yearend 1991.
Texas' increase of 9,501 prisoners during the year was the largest gain in the number of prisoners for any single jurisdiction, followed by California (7,688), New York (3,874), and Michigan (2,596). Texas accounted for about 16% of the increase in prisonpopulation nationwide.
Rates of incarceration increase
On December 31, 1992, the number of sentenced prisoners per 100,000 residents was 329, a new record. Twelve of the 19 jurisdictions with rates greater than the rate for the Nation were located in the South, 4 were in the West, 2 were in the Midwest, and 1was in the Northeast.
Since 1980 the number of sentenced inmates per 100,000 residents has risen nearly 137%, from 139 to 329. During this period, per capita incarceration rates have grown most rapidly in the Northeast, increasing by 198% (from 87 to 259), and the West, up by184% (from 105 to 298). The per capita number of sentenced prisoners in the Midwest climbed 149% (from 109 to 271), and the rate rose 89% in the South (from 188 to 355). The number of sentenced Federal prisoners per 100,000 U.S. residents has increased 18% (from 9 to 26) over the same period.
Prison populations in Southern States grow the fastest
Regionally, during 1992 the percentage increase in the number of sentenced prisoners was highest in the Southern States, with a gain of 7.8% (table 3). The number of sentenced prisoners grew by 6.7% in the Midwest, 5.9% in the West, and 4.6% in the Northest. The sentenced Federal prison population grew by 15.9%. In 22 States and the District of Columbia the percentage change in the number of sentenced prisoners during 1992 was higher than that of 1991. Among these jurisdictions, eight had increases of a least 10%, led by Texas (18.4%), Vermont (18.3%), West Virginia (16.2%), New Hampshire (15.9%), Wisconsin (15.5%), and Idaho (15.5%).
Since December 31, 1986, net gains in the number of sentenced prisoners have averaged about 1,039 prisoners per week -- a weekly gain of about 946 State prisoners and 94 Federal prisoners per week over the period. The largest net gains have occurred in te South (344 inmates per week) followed by the West (223), the Midwest (202), and the Northeast (176). During 1992, the average growth in the number of sentenced State and Federal prisoners was equal to a demand for 1,103 additional bedspaces per week, abut 139 more than the average weekly growth in 1991.
In 1992 the 10 States with the largest prison populations accounted for 52% of the total prison population nationwide -- California, New York, and Texas accounting for over 25%. Louisiana had the highest incarceration rate with 478 prisoners per 100,000 esidents.
Male prisoner population grows at a faster pace
The number of male inmates (833,184) increased at a faster rate during 1992 (7.3%) than the number of female inmates (50,409, 5.9%). The rate of incarceration for sentenced males (636 per 100,000 males in the resident population) was over 18 times higher han for sentenced females (35 per 100,000 females in the resident population). At the end of 1992, women accounted for 5.7% of all prisoners nationwide.
Overall, the 1992 growth rate (5.9%) for female inmates was less than the 1991 growth rate (8.4%). The growth rate declined in the Northeast, from 14.6% in 1991 to 1.7% in 1992, and in the South, from 10.0% to 3.6%. These declines in 1992 offset the highr growth rates in the Midwest and West.
Percent increase in
female inmate population
U.S. total 5.9% 8.4%
Federal 13.2% 12.8%
State 5.0% 7.8%
Northeast 1.7 14.6
Midwest 8.2 7.6
South 3.6 10.0
West 7.0 .4
In 1992, 26 States, the District of Columbia, and the Federal system had more than 500 female inmates. Among these jurisdictions, 8 had increases of at least 10%, led by Colorado's increase of 16.3% (from 453 in 1991 to 527 in 1992). The Federal prison sstem's increase during 1992, 745 inmates, accounted for 26.4% of the nationwide increase of 2,826.
Local jails held more than 18,000 because of State prison crowding
At the end of 1992, 21 jurisdictions reported a total of 18,191 State prisoners held in local jails or other facilities because of crowding in State facilities (table 7). Four States, Louisiana, New Jersey, Virginia, and Tennessee, accounted for almost 60 of the prisoners sentenced to prison but incarcerated locally. Four States, Louisiana, West Virginia, New Jersey, and Mississippi, held more than 10% of their prison population locally. Overall, 2.1% of the State prison population was confined in local ails on December 31, 1992, because of prison crowding.
Prison capacity estimates are difficult to compare
The extent of crowding in the Nation's prisons is difficult to determine precisely because of the absence of uniform measures for defining capacity. A wide variety of capacity measures is in use among the 52 reporting jurisdictions because capacity may rflect both available space to house inmates and the ability to staff and operate an institution. To estimate the capacity of the Nation's prisons, jurisdictions were asked to supply up to three measures for yearend -- rated, operational, and design capaciies. These measures were defined as follows:
Rated capacity is the number of beds or inmates assigned by a rating official to institutions within the jurisdiction.
Operational capacity is the number of inmates that can be accommodated based on a facility's staff, existing programs, and services.
Design capacity is the number of inmates that planners or architects intended for the facility.
Of the 52 reporting jurisdictions, 38 supplied rated capacities, 42 provided operational capacities, and 35 submitted design capacities. As a result, estimates of total capacity and measures of the relationship to population are based on the highest and lwest capacity figures provided. (Twenty-four jurisdictions reported 1 capacity measure or gave the same figure for each capacity measure they reported.)
Most jurisdictions are operating above capacity
Prisons generally require reserve capacity to operate efficiently. Prison dormitories and cells need to be maintained and repaired periodically, special housing is needed for protective custody and disciplinary cases, and space may be needed to cope with mergencies. At the end of 1992, 11 States reported they were operating at 95% or below their highest capacity. Forty-three jurisdictions and the Federal prison system reported operating at 100% or more of their lowest capacity.
At the end of 1992, the Federal system was estimated to be operating at 52% over capacity. State prisons were estimated to be operating at 118% of their highest capacities and 131% of their lowest capacities.
Rise in prison population linked to changes in prison admissions
Underlying the dramatic growth in the State prison population during the 1980's were changes in the composition of prison admissions. Since 1977 the relative sizes of the two principal sources of admissions to prison, court commitments and returned conditonal release violators, have changed. Court commitments account for a decreasing share of all prison admissions: 68.0% in 1991, down from 84.3% in 1977 (table 10). As a percentage of all admissions, those returning to prison after a conditional release mre than doubled, from 14.5% to 30.5%. These conditional release violators had originally left prison as parolees, mandatory releases, and other types of releases involving communty supervision.
The absolute number of conditional release violators returned to prison grew 7-fold, from 19,617 in 1977 to 142,100 in 1991, while the number of new court commitments nearly tripled, from 114,230 to 317,237. Overall, the increase in the number of conditioal release violators accounted for more than a third of the growth in the total admissions to State prisons.
An increasing percentage of court commitments sentenced for drug offenses
In 1990, the latest year for which data are available, the number of new court commitments for drug offenses reached a record high, an estimated 103,800. For the first time, the number of persons admitted for drug offenses was greater than the number admited for property offenses (102,400), violent offenses (87,200), or public-order offenses (26,200). An estimated 32.1% of all new court commitments in 1990 were drug offenders, up from 11.5% in 1977 (figure 2). In 1990 an estimated 31.7% were property offnders; 27.0%, violent offenders; and 8.1%, public-order offenders. The increase in drug offenders admitted to prison accounted for more than 40% of the total growth in new court commitments since 1977.
Growth in the number of persons arrested for drug law violations and an increase in the rate of incarceration for drug offenses account for the change in the prison offense distribution. Between 1977 and 1990, the estimated number of adult arrests for dru law violations increased by 104.4%, from 493,300 to 1,008,300 (table 11). Compounding the impact of more drug arrests, the rate of drug offenders sent to State prison rose from 27 per 1,000 adult arrests for drug violations in 1977 to 103 admissions per ,000 in 1990.
An increasing number of arrests and a rise in the probability of incarceration for serious crimes
Growth in the prison population was not solely the result of more commitments of drug offenders. Between 1977 and 1990 the number of persons admitted to prison for selected serious offenses, such as murder, nonnegligent manslaughter, sexual assault, robbey, aggravated assault, and burglary, also rose by more than 50,000.
Regardless of the type of offense, the number of adults arrested and the ratio of prison admissions to arrests increased between 1977 and 1990. The total number of arrests for serious crimes rose by 48.8%, from 592,400 to 881,300, while the ratio of priso admissions to adult arrests for these crimes increased from 121 commitments per 1,000 arrests to 143. Although the prison commitment ratio was higher in 1990 than in 1977, it changed from year-to-year: increasing from 1978 to 1984, fluctuating between 195 and 1988, and then increasing after 1988.
Although the number of persons admitted to prison grew for each of the five selected serious offenses, increases in the number arrested for aggravated assault and in the probability of incarceration for burglary accounted for much of the total growth.
Growth in the number of arrests for aggravated assault accounted for more than two-thirds of the total increase in arrests for serious crimes. In 1990 an estimated 410,800 adults were arrested for aggravated assault, up from 209,300 in 1977. When combine with an increase in the probability of going to prison from 32 per 1,000 arrests to 56 per 1,000, aggravated assault accounted for nearly a third of the total increase in prison admissions for serious offenses.
A rise in the prison admissions to arrest ratio for burglary accounted for an additional 24% of the total increase in prison admissions for serious offenses. While the annual number of adults arrested for burglary grew by 42,000 between 1977 and 1990, thenumber of admissions to prison per 1,000 arrests increased from 115 to 160. At least 13,000 more admissions to prison for burglary occurred in 1990 than in 1977 because of the higher rate of imprisonment.
This Bulletin is based upon an advance count of prisoners conducted for the National Prisoner Statistics (NPS) program immediately after the end of each calendar year. A detailed, final count containing any revisions to the jurisdictions' advance count ill be published later.
Alabama. Capacity in community programs is not included in the reported capacity figures.
Alaska. Prisons and jails form one integrated system. All NPS data include, therefore, both jail and prison populations.
Arizona. Population counts are based on custody data. Population counts exclude 95 males housed in local jails because of crowding.
California. Population counts are based on custody data.
Colorado. Population counts for "Inmates with over 1 year maximum sentence" include an undetermined number of "Inmates with a sentence of 1 year or less."
Connecticut. Prisons and jails form one integrated system. All NPS data include, therefore, both jail and prison populations.
Delaware. Population counts are based on custody data. Prisons and jails form one integrated system. All NPS data include, therefore, both jail and prison populations.
District of Columbia. Prisons and jails form one integrated system. All NPS data include, therefore, both jail and prison populations.
Florida. Population counts are based on custody data. Population counts for "Inmates with over 1 year maximum sentence" include an undetermined number of "Inmates with a sentence
of 1 year or less."
Georgia. Population counts are based on custody data. Population counts exclude an undetermined number of inmates housed in local jails solely to ease crowding, awaiting pick-up.
Hawaii. Prisons and jails form one integrated system. All NPS data include, therefore, both jail and prison populations. Capacities of female facilities are included in those reported for male facilities.
Idaho. Population counts are from December 30, 1992.
Illinois. Population counts are based on custody data. Population counts for "Inmates with over 1 year maximum sentence" include an undetermined number of "Inmates with sentence of 1 year or less."
Indiana. Population counts are based on custody data and exclude 761 male and 18 female inmates housed in local jails because of crowding.
Iowa. Population counts are based on custody data.
Maryland. While population totals are actual manual counts, breakdowns for sentence length are estimates based on the actual sentence length data from Maryland's automated system.
Massachusetts. Population counts are based on custody data as of January 1, 1993. Population counts exclude 957 male inmates housed in local jails because of crowding. Population totals are actual counts; however, the totals by sex are estimates believd to be within 0.1% of the actual counts.
Michigan. Population counts are based on custody data. Capacity figures exclude the capacities of the Community Residential Program. Population totals are estimates believed to be accurate within 5% of the actual numbers.
New Jersey. Each capacity figure includes 788 beds in county facilities.
North Carolina. While population totals are actual counts, the breakdowns for sentence length are estimates believed to be accurate to within 1% of the actual counts. Population counts exclude inmates housed in county jails for which the State governmen had parole authority. These inmates are not under the jurisdiction of the North Carolina Division of Prisons.
Ohio. Population counts for "Inmates with over 1 year maximum sentence" include an undetermined number of "Inmates with a sentence of 1 year or less."
Oklahoma. Population counts for "Inmates with over 1 year maximum sentence" include an undetermined number of "Inmates with a sentence of 1 year or less." Population counts exclude 442 male and 29 female inmates housed in local jails because of crowding
Rhode Island. Prisons and jails form one integrated system. All NPS data include, therefore, both jail and prison populations. Populations of inmates given partially suspended sentences (part served in prison and part on probation) are included with th "Inmates with over 1 year maximum sentence" only if the prison portion of the sentence exceeds 1 year. As a result, the "Inmates with over 1 year maximum sentence" populations are understated and the "Inmates with a sentence of 1 year or less" are overstted.
Tennessee. Population counts for "Inmates with over 1 year maximum sentence" include an undetermined number of "Inmates with a sentence of 1 year or less." Population counts include 1,064 male and 56 female inmates housed in local jails because of crowdng and exclude 2,680 felons sentenced to serve their time in local jails. The State pays to house these 2,680 felons, but the local court maintains jurisdiction.
Texas. Population counts are based on custody data.
Vermont. Prisons and jails form an almost completely integrated system. However, some county and municipal authorities do operate "local lockups." NPS data include both jail and prison populations. The capacity figures exclude the 18 male inmates housd in "local lockups."
Washington. Capacity figures exclude State work release facilities which housed 785 male and 169 female inmates on December 31, 1992. State pre-release and work release facilities have beds reserved for 336 male State inmates and 90 female State inmates The remaining capacity of these facilities is for parolees, probationers, and offenders serving partial confinement sentences.
West Virginia. Population counts exclude 362 male and 19 female inmates housed in local jails because of crowding.
Wyoming. The male operational capacity figure is the absolute total bed space available to Wyoming's Department of Corrections, and it includes 150 bed spaces in community centers not designated as exclusively male or female.
Darrell K. Gilliard wrote this report, under the supervision of Allen J. Beck. Statistical assistance provided by Danielle Morton and Nneka Shelton. Corrections statistics are prepared under the general direction of Lawrence Greenfeld. Tom Hester and Prscilla Middleton edited the report. Betty Sherman, Jayne Pugh, and Yvonne Boston, under the general supervision of Marilyn Marbrook, produced the report. Data collection and processing were carried out by Carol Spivey under the supervision of Gerturde Odm and N. Gail Hoff, Demographics Surveys Division, U.S. Bureau of the Census.
May 1993, NCJ-141874
The Bureau of Justice Statistics, an agency of the U.S. Department of Justice, is part of the Office of Justice Programs, which also includes the Office for Victims of Crime, the National Institute of Justice, the Bureau of Justice Assistance, and the Offie of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.
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